“. . . Why do you call me good? . . .” Mark 10:18
People often asked Jesus questions. Some of them were wise and perceptive, some were foolish and pointless, but to them all Jesus gave great answers. However, sometimes Jesus asked questions; one hundred eighty times. His questions were designed to search the soul. The question Jesus posed to the rich young ruler was about his perception of good. The good is much bigger than he realized, and good’s perfection is found only in God.
Jesus’ question intends to challenge the young ruler to see that his thought is not deep enough, nor is he prepared or strong enough for the answer. The ruler is shallow in his thinking about how to inherit eternal life. His vision of good must be deepened if he is ever to see what is lacking in his own life. If this man is ever to find the higher life he craves, his approach must be transformed from thinking that gaining good is achieved by keeping a set of standards. For you and me, it’s connecting the dots between good and God that inspires us to live for Him. Life is in the spirit, not the performance of an act, as we experience the life of God.
There are two types of good between which we must choose – that of Jesus, or that of the Rabbis. It makes no difference to call Jesus good until we have settled which of the two types of good we intend. The Rabbis’ version of goodness consisted mainly in keeping innumerable, minute rules and sacraments. This approach is a creative way of breeding self-satisfaction, spiritual pride and moral blindness.
Jesus’ goodness was the antithesis of the scribes. Jesus hated pretense, insincerity and hypocrisy, He desired truth in the inner most parts. Jesus lived the freedom He called others to live. He had deep faith in God’s goodness. He constantly spoke of God as a Father. He loved and served God as a son, cheerfully, joyfully, without fear. Jesus regarded the way of the Father as good and perfect.
God’s goodness frees the soul, clears away the cobwebs of customs, and gives a fresh start. Because God is good old things have passed away, one is now able to serve God freely with heart, mind and soul.
Dear Jesus, break down in me any sense of falsehood, insincerity and self-righteous rule keeping.